Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) refused to say whether he supports legal abortion in cases of rape and incest in a Wednesday interview with The Associated Press and scolded the reporter who pressed him on it.
The 2016 presidential candidate said he does not want to get into the details of his opposition to abortion. "The thing is about abortion -- and about a lot of things -- is that I think people get tied up in all these details of, sort of, you're this or this or that, or you're hard and fast [on] one thing or the other," Paul said.
The senator added, "I've supported both bills with and without [exceptions], you know. In general, I am pro-life. So I will support legislation that advances and shows that life is special and deserves protection."
When the AP reporter pressed Paul on whether women who have been raped should be able to have an abortion, the senator became annoyed. "I gave you about a five-minute answer," Paul said. "Put in my five-minute answer."
The question of whether to include rape and incest exceptions in abortion bans is important enough to have actually sunk bills in Congress. The House of Representatives was scheduled to vote on a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy this year, which Paul has endorsed, but GOP leadership canceled the vote because some members objected to the narrow rape exemption.
"I'm going to need your help to find a way out of this definitional problem of rape," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said at Family Research Council's ProLifeCon in January. "We just need to find a consensus position on the rape exception."
The specifics of a candidate's position on abortion are also significant because the GOP-controlled Congress is poised to send a number of anti-abortion bills to the president's desk that could ultimately challenge Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court's landmark abortion rights decision. If the same happened and Paul were in the White House and willing to sign a bill that would prevent rape victims from being able to have an abortion, the Supreme Court could take up that question in a future session.
But Paul continued to bristle at abortion questions in New Hampshire on Wednesday. "Why don’t we ask the DNC if it's okay to kill a 7 pound baby in the uterus?" Paul reportedly told a reporter.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.), chair of the Democratic National Committee, responded to Paul's comments on Wednesday.
"Here's an answer. I support letting women and their doctors make this decision without government getting involved. Period. End of story," she said in a statement. "Now your turn, Senator Paul. We know you want to allow government officials like yourself to make this decision for women -- but do you stand by your opposition to any exceptions, even when it comes to rape, incest, or life of the mother? Or do we just have different definitions of 'personal liberty'? And I’d appreciate it if you could respond without 'shushing' me."
This post has been updated with a statement from Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
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